Planning a vacation in Oregon means variety for the eyes and body. The unique nature of Oregon offers rugged coasts on the Pacific Ocean, mountains and volcanoes. The highest mountain, Mount Hood, is over 3400 meters high and is located in the Cascade Range in the northwest. It is covered by twelve glaciers.
The state of Oregon is located in the northwest of the USA. The 33rd state has huge coniferous forests. Therefore, the timber industry was once the largest economic industry. The whole state has a temperate climate throughout the year, except in the mountains. And these are a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts
With so many attractive destinations, it is hard to make the right choice. With the list of the 19 most beautiful places and sights of Oregon, planning will be easier.
19. Silver Falls State Park
It is the largest state park in the state of Oregon. Over 36 square miles is an old growth stand of live trees and Douglas firs. An impressive nature along the two branches of the river South and North Fork, which converge in Silver Creek. Cougars, black bears and wapitis live in the park. Activities in the park include hiking, biking and horseback riding.
In the summer, you can also go swimming in Silver Creek. The park also offers a visitor center. In addition, there is a large campground, numerous picnic areas and walking trails. A special attraction are the four walkable waterfalls out of the ten in the park. That is, you can walk behind the falls.
18. Wallowa Lake
Wallowa Lake is located in extreme northeastern Oregon at over 1300 feet above sea level. The 600-hectare lake is surrounded by the Wallowa Mountains. An impressive mountain panorama, which is why the area is also called the little Switzerland of the USA. At its southern end is Wallowa State Park. Cabins, lodges and campgrounds make it a popular vacation spot.
Recreational activities such as canoeing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking in breathtakingly beautiful scenery is possible here. From Wallowa Lake a cable car, the Wallowa Lake Tramway, leads up to Mount Howard. The mountain is 2400 meters high and offers a gigantic view.
17. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
The area around Hells Canyon was declared a recreation area in 1975. Hells Canyon is located between the two states of Idaho and Oregon. It is the deepest river canyon in North America with a depth of over 2500 meters. It thus surpasses the Grand Canyon. Hells Canyon is located in northeastern Oregon near the former gold mining town of Joseph.
Recreational activities such as hiking, kayaking and boating are popular in the nature reserve. In addition, swimming, fishing, horseback riding and biking. The best way to explore the 15-kilometer-wide canyon is on the water by raft or boat. On the back of a horse is also a real possibility.
16. Mount Hood
It is the highest mountain in Oregon with over 3400 meters above sea level. It is a strato-volcano, a volcano made of different geological layers. Mount Hood is the fourth highest mountain of the Cascade Range, the mountain range of volcanic origin. There are 12 glaciers to admire on the mountain slopes.
It offers numerous opportunities for active vacationers. In winter it is an Eldorado for cross-country skiing fans, as well as for alpine skiers. Mount Hood Ski Bowl is the oldest ski resort in Oregon. The ski paradise existed as early as 1928. In summer, experienced mountaineers go on tours here. Mount Hood offers a unique panorama and a view of the Southern Cascades.
From nearby Trillium Lake the view of Mount Hood is uniquely beautiful. The lake is surrounded by dense forest. It offers the possibility to paddle, there is a boat rental. Besides, there are many hiking trails and camping is also possible.
This small town is located on the Columbia River in northwestern Oregon. Once the fur traders were located here. A landmark is the 38-meter-high Astoria Column tower. It is located at the mouth of the Columbia River into the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia River is the most water-rich river in the western USA.
The special feature of the tower is its exterior: It is plastered in sgraffito, a special plastering technique. Surrounding the tower is a 120,000-square-foot park. The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park transports the visitor to times gone by. In 1805, Lewis and Clark’s expedition ended here.
Portland is the largest city in Oregon with a population of over 500,000. It is located in the northwest and lies on the Columbia River. The extraordinary city has a great public transportation network. Sustainability is very important here. Huge parks make for great air. They also offer great recreational value for residents and visitors alike. One visitor magnet is the Japanese Garden. It was created in honor of the partnership with Japan. With five different Japanese garden styles, it enchants its visitors. The following gardens exist:
- Flat Garden
- Flanier Stone Garden
- Tea Garden
- Sand and Rock Garden
- Natural Garden
The tea house in the middle of the garden is especially popular. Sitting on the ground, a tea ceremony is performed here in proper style.
Portland is also known for its lively music scene; from hip-hop to indie, it’s home to great musicians. With over 75 breweries, Portland is a city of beer. Craft beer is especially popular here.
Worth seeing is the historic administration building, the Pioneer Courthouse from 1869. The classicist building is one of the oldest administration buildings in the Northwest. The St. Johns Bridge is a steel suspension bridge and the tallest in the city.
13. Crater Lake National Park
The national park is located in southern Oregon. It is, 741 square kilometers and exists since 1902. It includes the area around Crater Lake and the volcano Mount Mazama. Camping is possible in the national park. Numerous hiking trails lead through the park. Challenges are provided by the mountains in it, which you can climb.
On Crater Lake there are small islands. One of them is Wizard Island. It is the top of the volcano. The lake is the deepest lake in the USA with almost 600 meters depth and has sapphire blue water. You can take boat tours on the lake. The lake is one of the natural wonders because it was formed in the depression of a volcanic eruption. And that was over 7000 years ago.
12. Cannon Beach
This coastal town is located in northern Oregon on the Pacific Ocean. The impressive coastal landscape at the 14-kilometer-long beach invites you to take a walk. The white, wide sandy beach is ideal for extended beach runs. The 72-meter high basalt monolith Haystock Rock is unique and is a protected nature reserve.
Every year in June the competition of sand sculpture builders takes place here. This event has been held since 1965 and Cannon Beach is world famous for it. In the small town there are beautiful stores that sell, among other things, handicrafts. They are located in historic houses. It is especially nice that they are not the usual chain stores. The numerous restaurants take care of the physical well-being.
Nearby is Ecola State Park. This is an area with rocky coastlines and coastal forests that can only be found here. From here you can enjoy a fantastic view of Cannon Beach.
11. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a belt of dunes on the Pacific Coast in the state of Oregon. The dunes consist of primeval sand. It was formed by grinding up the sedimentary rocks of the Oregon Coast Range, which were unfolded over twelve million years ago. Researchers found that there are over 400 species of plants and over 400 species of animals here. Birds, in particular, live in this area.
The southern part is open to visitors. There are numerous campsites here. A vacation here offers relaxation in a unique environment. Wide sandy beaches, the wild Pacific Ocean and few people you will meet here. Occasionally a quad rider comes by, the quads are available for rent. You can learn everything about this area at the Reedsport Visitor Center.
10. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
It is a protected area in northeastern Oregon, consisting of three non-contiguous parts. The so-called units are located in the river valley of the John Day River, a tributary of the Columbia River. The three parts are called Sheep Rock Painted Hills and Clarno. The colorful rock formations are particularly fascinating. Sheep Rock shimmers in blue-green colors.
The Painted Hills seem most beautiful in the afternoon because of the sunlight. They are almost dark red then. In Clarno the Trail of fossiles is recommended. Here you can see fossils of plants that grew 44 million years ago.
In John Day Fossil National Monument are numerous hiking trails. Some offer fantastic views of the entire river valley. Others take you past leaf fossils or go through hilly landscapes.
This small town is located in southern Oregon, near the California border. The region is known for its beautiful hiking trails. Daredevils take a rafting trip on the Klamath River. In winter, Ashland is an excellent winter sports region.
A special attraction is the Ashland Library. The impressive facade of the 1912 building is located in the middle of town. There are also rooms for community events and computer classes.
The place is famous for a festival of a special kind. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has been held in Ashland since 1935. Plays by the poet are performed from February through October, drawing large numbers of visitors to the city. The Elizabethan Theatre is a replica of the Globe Theatre in London.
8. Mount Bachelor
Mount Bachelor is located in the Cascade Range, the mountain range in the state of Oregon. It is a stratovolcano and has had no activity for over 7000 years. It is over 2700 meters high and there is a popular winter sports area here. It is the highest ski resort in the north of the USA. The first ski lift was put into operation already in 1958. On the huge area is a paradise for Nordic skiers with miles of trails. Snowboarders and skiers use slopes of varying difficulty. There are guided snowshoe tours or a ride with sled dogs.
In summer it is a wonderful hiking area, with trails through pine forests. There are also good tours by mountain bike. Stay overnight in one of the many logdes with unique mountain scenery. Enjoy the sundowner on the terrace with a crystal clear air.
7. Salem, OR
The capital of the state of Oregon is located on the Willamette River in the Willamette Valley. It is considered the most fertile valley in the world. That’s why there is a lot of agriculture here. There are vineyards, flower fields and gardens as far as the eye can see.
Worth seeing is the Reed Opera House, which is now a theater and shopping center. There was once only a theater in the brick building. It is now the city’s landmark. The Oregon State Fair is held every year at the end of August, beginning of September. It is the state fair of Oregon. There is music and plenty of food, as well as stores and artisans selling their wares.
6. Eugene, OR
This university town is located in western Oregon. It is the third largest city in the state of Oregon, along with Salem and Portland. The university is one of the largest in the state and offers a lot of interesting things for visitors: here are museums, historical sites and a botanical garden with over 500 species of trees on the large area. There are also guided tours here.
Especially nice is the Saturday market. Here you can find regional food, live music and handmade goods. It is one of the oldest weekly markets. Numerous food stalls and food courts offer culinary delights. A highlight is the King Estate Winery. Here, organically grown wines of first-class quality are on offer. A wine tasting in a noble ambience is a change.
5. Seaside, OR
Seaside is a small town in Clatsop County, Oregon. It is a coastal town that, although tiny, was granted city charter in 1899. The most famous landmark is the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse out on the rock in the sea. It is one of the four historic buildings of national importance worthy of protection. Visitors also like to go to the marine aquarium with live marine animals. There is also an eleven meter long whale skeleton in the exhibit.
On the relatively firm sand you can take wonderful walks on the beach. For families with children, the Seaside Carousel Mall is worth seeing. Children and the young at heart can ride a carousel cat or horse, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Around it are small stores selling souvenirs, clothing, and ice cream, coffee and snacks are also available.
4. Newport, OR
Newport is a small town in Lincoln County on the Pacific Coast. The town is located at the southern end of Yaquina Bay, where the Yaquina River empties into the Pacific Ocean. Of particular interest is the historic Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. It is located Yaquina Bay State Park. About five kilometers away, on the Yaquina Head peninsula, there is also a beautiful lighthouse. It is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon.
Also impressive is the bridge in Newport that crosses Yasmina Bay. The Oregon Coast Aquarium attracts visitors with great exhibits. A sea lion exhibit, octopus exhibit and seabird exhibit of impressive size. Those interested in the history of Newport should become a look into the history museum. The Pacific Maritime Heritage Center’s exhibits show the city then and now.
3. Newberry National Volcanic Monument
It is a nature preserve in Oregon located entirely within the Deschutes National Forest. The preserve includes the shield volcano Newberry, the largest in area in the Cascade Range. The preserve is named for explorer Newberry. He accompanied an Army expedition to explore possible railroad routes. Visitors can learn about geology, ecology of the area, and cultural history at the Lava Lands Visitor Center.
There are two lakes in the nature reserve, an angler’s paradise. There is a beautiful hotel and seven campgrounds to stay in an incomparable setting. At Lava Butte there are fantastic views of the volcanic landscape. The Obsidian Trail is recommended, here the effects of the volcanic eruptions and lava are close enough to touch.
2. Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley is in northwestern Oregon. The region is surrounded by the Willamette River, and about 70 percent of Oregon’s residents live here. To the east, it is bounded by the Cascade Range. A special feature is the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Canadian wild geese live here in winter, as well as swans and ducks.
The most abundant grapes grow in the fertile region, making for much award-winning wine. In addition, there are many breweries, and craft beer is especially popular here. The Willamette Valley offers great recreational value. Bike tours, hiking trails, mountain climbing and water sports, everything is possible here.
Willamette National Forrest Park offers unforgettable moments. Numerous waterfalls splash against a mystical backdrop. Especially beautiful is Koosoh Falls, an insider tip. Not so many tourists get lost here.
This small town is located in the heart of Oregon on the Deschutes River. Bend has an old town with beautiful buildings and houses from the early 1900’s to 1940’s. Worthwhile is a visit to the High Desert Museum, a natural history museum near town. There are over 18000 exhibits of wildlife and plants on display.
Bend is surrounded by the Cascade Mountains and is located on a high desert. One attraction is Tumalo Falls, numerous waterfalls in a unique setting. There are easy and difficult hiking trails to each waterfall. In summer, a walk through the Lava River Cave is pleasant. The dark cave is a passage through a former lava flow. In summer it is a refreshment.